"Letters from a Disillusioned Generation" Pt. 1

NOTE: If you don't read this whole post, please at least read the italicized paragraphs close to the end.

I am intrigued with the postmodern mindset. Every since I attended a conference about Western Europe earlier this year, I have not been able to shake this desire to know more. Rest assured, I am a God-fearing, Jesus-loving Christian, but I do share some postmodern views (or so I've been told that I do).

We live in a world where more and more people fit the term "post-Christian." Meaning someone who doesn't necessarily feel the need to claim an organized, dominant religion and/or denomination; rather, they create their own values and views of the world. Researchers say that Europe fits within this category and more than half of the population in many areas in Europe "profess belief in a transcendent, personal and monotheistically-conceived deity."

Having said all of this, I have decided to (finally) do some research of my own. Over the past few weeks I have picked up four books (UnChristian; Dear Church: Letters from a Disillusioned Generation; They Like Jesus but not the Church: Insights from Emerging Generations; and Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical) that I hope will enlighten me as to why many feel Christianity is not a way to happiness, salvation, redemption or anything in life worth meaning.

The title of my blog series reflects part of one of the books, Dear Church: Letters from a Disillusioned Generation. It was written by twenty-something Sarah Cunningham. She grew up as a preacher's kid (I can relate) who spent more time within the walls of a church building then her own home...which I can also relate with.

Sarah sucks you in with her raw, transparent, refreshing-no-bs-honesty.

I had no plans to write a blog on any of my findings, but I came across something at the beginning of this book that I have to share. This is something so sobering, so sad and so true of the what the church as an institution has become in the eyes of some of the public - both "believers" and "non-believers" alike.

And so Sarah writes...

Throughout my childhood, and at important junctures in my adulthood, I began to pick up that not everyone's encounters with the church were as positive as mine. Not everyone, as it turned out, got the full-blown PK package: hugs in the church foyer, cookies at Christmas, or invitations to play at house after house.

Slowly I grew concerned that my experience with church was not necessarily the norm. Several months before taking my first church staff position, I enrolled in an additional learning track at Spring Arbor University. My urban studies minor, conducted under the supervision of sociology professor Paul Nemecek, allowed me to craft and independent study that examined how local churches interacted with diverse people groups in our city.

Block after block, I surveyed citizens in our town. More often than not, these interviews produced throught-provoking stories.

The comments from a woman working in connection with the local justice department summerized the feelings of many. "What do you think churches could do to improve their relationship with the local community?" I asked.

"Churches?" she repeated, almost as if she thought she might have heard me wrong.

I nodded and repeated the question.

"I don't see anything that churches could do." She wasn't being mean, but rather to-the-point. "We've already got tons of churches. Look around. There's a church on every corner. I bet you could count nine or ten within three blocks of here," she reminded me. "And nothing has changed, has it? Did you know that three or four of these churches have been here since the town was on the map? But some of the social issues keep getting worse and worse."

She paused for me to write things down. "People don't have enough job training or employment opportunities. Drunks wander the streets. The same homeless people have been circling in and out of the shelters for the last fifteen years. Kids don't have anything to do to keep them out of trouble. Meanwhile, the churches keep right on existing, holding their services every Sunday. And it never changes anything. It seems pretty obvious to me that churches are not the answer."

"...churches are not the answer."

That just blew me away. Honestly, that is were I stopped reading over two hours ago. I had to process. How true is that statement? Think about it. In some cities, thousands of homes stand within a 10 to 15 mile radius of at least one church, yet the church may only has 200-400 regular members. How many of those members are related and inter-married? Subtract that from the total...now how many "individual families" have truly "chosen" (meaning not born into or married into the church, per say, but visited and decided this church was a good fit for them) to be a part of your church?

What can the church - not as a building, but a body of believers - do differently to reach those who feel they don't need church? How can the church reach those who have been burned out by the church? How can the church overcome irrelevance and return to the New Testament church? How can the church erase the stereotypical hypocrite label?


    A very thought provoking article. Thanks.


    good thoughts. sin makes the world a sad place. and i think sometimes we (the church) are a little selfish with our saviour.


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